David Suzuki Foundation

Our mission is to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future. Through a combination of sound science and active public outreach, we motivate Canadians to take action on the environmental challenges we collectively face.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Canadians consistently name us as the most credible and reliable source of science-based environmental information and rank us above all other organizations in working co-operatively with business to resolve critical issues. 

We are building an influential community of environmentally aware citizens, and continue to grow the largest online and social media presence of any Canadian environmental organization.Canadians consistently name us as the most credible and reliable source of science-based environmental information and rank us above all other organizations in working co-operatively with business to resolve critical issues.  We are building an influential community of environmentally aware citizens, and continue to grow the largest online and social media presence of any Canadian environmental organization.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

For more than two decades, the David Suzuki Foundation has worked across Canada with government, business and communities to conserve our environment by providing science-based education, outreach and policy work, and by acting as a catalyst for social change. We seek to help build healthy, sustainable communities that are in balance with the natural services that support all life.

In southern Ontario, DSF has worked to build support among local communities and decision makers to protect critical green space and farmland through expansion of Ontario’s world-class Greenbelt and the establishment of Canada’s first urban National Park in the Rouge watershed. This past year the organization began working to bring nature home to the city through the Homegrown National Park Project -- an effort to crowd-source green activities through the heart of the city, along the former Garrison Creek.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Some of the David Suzuki Foundation’s recent accomplishments include:

  • Playing a key role in establishing the Rouge National Park – Canada's first urban national park, located in eastern Toronto and 18 times larger than New York City's Central Park
  • We have cultivated the largest online and social media presence of any Canadian environmental organization – reaching an audience of well over one million people every week through traditional and digital communications 
  • The organization has become Canada's leader in “natural capital” research, using innovative economic modelling to estimate values for the essential services that nature provides – such as flood protection, water filtration and carbon capture. 

DSF has also been collaborating with stakeholders, local food supporters and chefs to bring awareness around the issue of the Melancthon MegaQuarry. This project culminated in the successful Soupstock event, with over 40,000 people in attendance. Project success was achieved when the plans for the MegaQuarry were cancelled.

Our Programs How We Do It

Our Program areas:

Protecting our climate - research and provide clean energy solutions and information on energy conservation to ensure Canada does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous climate change.

Create livable communities - assist urban centres in Canada to protect green and blue spaces and promote transit-oriented development and pedestrian- and cycle-friendly transportation options.

Establish environmental rights and justice - work with citizens, constitutional experts and lawmakers to ensure that Canadians enjoy the right to live in a healthy environment.

Transform the economy - help secure Canadians' high quality of life within the finite limits of nature through efficient resource use.

Connect with nature - assist Canadians, especially youth, to learn about their dependence on a healthy environment and the benefits of time in nature through outdoor education and opportunities.

Build community - engage Canadians to live healthy, fulfilled and just lives with tips on building Earth-friendly infrastructure, making smart energy choices, using efficient transportation and being mindful of the products, food and water we use.

Inspired by authors Richard Louv and Douglas Tallamy, we have embarked on a mission to establish a "Homegrown National Park" by creating a vibrant green corridor following the former path of Garrison Creek, one of Toronto's most important lost rivers.

We will work with community organizations and local residents to enhance, restore and create urban green space. Together, we will get our hands dirty by planting native trees and shrubs, cultivating bird and bug-friendly gardens and growing food in backyards and balconies.

The Homegrown National Park Project

Description

In order to establish the world's first Homegrown National Park, the David Suzuki Foundation has joined forces with more than a dozen partner groups and two dozen volunteer Neighbourhood Park Rangers.

Together with keen local residents, businesses and groups, the project will help bring more green -- gardens, trees, shrubs, flowers -- to yards, alleys, streets, rooftops, parks and green spaces throughout the corridor.

The project is beginning in Toronto's Ward 19 - roughly running from Dovercourt to Bathurst, and Dupont to the lake.

Do you want to help us bring nature home? Find out more:

WEB: davidsuzuki.org/homegrownTWITTER: #HomegrownNationalPark

Funding and Program Partners

Homegrown National Park Project Community Partners:

LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests)

Not Far From The Tree

Park People

Evergreen

Toronto Green Community — Lost Rivers Walks

Fort York

Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

Green Roofs For Healthy Cities

Bird Studies Canada

Cultivate Toronto

Toronto Master Gardeners

Mike Layton, Councillor, City Of Toronto Ward 19

Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative

North American Native Plant Society

The project has been supported through in-kind contributions and donations from partner and community groups, plus sponsorship from local businesses and organizations and a successful CSI Catalyst crowd-funding campaign.

Program Impact

The Homegrown National Park Project has included the recruitment of 21 local residents  to act as Neighbourhood Park Rangers, plus 14 community partners. The project has also been done in cooperation with more than two dozen resident associations, BIAs and "Friends of" parks groups along the former Garrison Creek corridor. The preliminary results: 2,000 volunteer hours commited, dozens of community events hosted and attended, more than 1,000 native species planted and a half dozen resident and Park Ranger-led projects, including the Community Canoe project, Charles G Fraser school planting, Get Growing garden contest, and Homegrown Park Crawl.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“Toronto is a living city with wild, accessible nature in a vibrant, diverse city. Nature makes a city come alive. It dazzles us, inspires us and soothes us.” -- David Love, Executive Director, The Living City Foundation

While nature surrounds us -- in our parks, yards, laneways, institutional and private spaces -- most GTA residents remain largely disconnected from the natural world. The Homegrown National Park Project not only aims to create and enhance our stocks of nature throughout an urban corridor in the heart of the city; it is also building deeper connections between residents with the wonders of nature in our neighbourhoods. 

Natural Capital in Ontario's Greenbelt

Urban sprawl, resource extraction and other land use practices have a large impact on natural capital and the health and wellbeing of Torontonians. Over the past 4 years, with the support of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) has completed a series of research reports on the services that nature provides for free (carbon storage, pollinator habitat, water filtration, etc.) These studies have been well received by science and policy experts but have not yet had a significant impact on policy development within and around the Greenbelt, due to the absence of a comprehensive program of outreach and engagement to decision-makers, industry and the public.  Report recommendations include:

1.) More than a tenth of the best farmland in the Golden Horseshoe has been lost to urban development. We will seek to increase the viability of urban farming by communicating the importance and value of non-market services that agricultural areas provide to society.

2.) We want to undertake a global systematic literature review on aspects direct and otherwise, on nature and the impact it has on health and wellbeing. This will then provide policy recommendations relating to specific elements of public health, urban planning bringing vital awareness of low income, high density zones that have presumed access to nature but lacks efficacy in reality. This aspect of the project includes the creation and management of a collaborative body that includes public health, municipal, conservation authority and academic stakeholders.

3.) The DSF shares the goal of increasing the size and ensuring the permanency of the Greenbelt and we will directly work to build industry and municipal support by increasing awareness of the importance of natural capital among targeted community leaders and providing compelling evidence of the fiscal, social and ecological benefits of expanding the region. 

The vision is to bring the Greenbelt into the amalgamated City of Toronto making it more accessible. Throughout the project year we will consult with staff at the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance on specific policy strategies and to ensure that messaging is consistent with the collaborative public campaign efforts.

Funding and Program Partners

In 2008, DSF undertook an economic valuation of the ecosystem services that nature provides for free in Southern Ontario. (Services such as water filtration, climate moderation/carbon storage, flood/storm mitigation, pollination, etc.) These services are worth $2.6 billion per year. Currently, DSF is completing several reports on the most critical natural assets in the GTA and Greater Golden Horseshoe Region, and assessing their vulnerability to planned development. DSF has also been working with local advocates, business leaders, the Rouge Park Alliance and all levels of government to help make the Rouge National Park a reality.

DSF's new ground-breaking public engagement campaign is reaching out to communities around the Rouge Park to strengthen their connection to the park's wealth of nature. Local advocates with diverse networks will be strengthened and connected to champion the Rouge.

Program Impact

DSF completed an economic valuation of ecosystem goods and services and research on the advancement of regulatory strategies (natural capital policy reform, land use planning) and market incentives (natural capital offsets) to encourage developers, farmers and other land users to protect soil, water, air, and biodiversity resources on their lands to create greater health and wellbeing for residents.  The valuation study has been one of the main research pieces used to build the rationale for maintaining and growing the Greenbelt, and has been well-received by media and decision-makers.

DSF is continuing its public engagement on natural capital to reconnect Ontarians with their profound interdependence with nature (and with the Greenbelt in particular in the GTA).  However, this dialogue must be expanded further to reach out to diverse communities who have not traditionally been part of conservation and land-use discussions to create a GTA where the access to nature reflects the values of all citizens.

This program would strengthen our ability to undertake advocacy to support inclusive resident-led stewardship of natural capital in urban areas and countryside to safeguard land, habitat for wildlife, watersheds, and farmlands that provide accessible local food, wellbeing and a sense of community.  

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The protected farmlands, river valleys, forests and wetlands adjoining the Toronto Region are home to a fragile biodiversity including 78 of the 190 species at risk in the province."

"Neighbourhoods with incomes more than 40% below average could comprise 30% of all neighbourhoods (compared to 1% in 1970)."

"46% of Canadian children spend 3 hours or less a week — including weekends — in active play. In Toronto, that would be equivalent to about 184,400 of the city’s 400,840 children. "

"In 2010, almost 4 in 10 (38.2%) of youth (age 12-19) in the city of Toronto reported that they were inactive during leisure time."

"The epidemic of physical inactivity is now costing the Canadian economy more than $6.8 Billion (3.8% of total health care costs in 2009)."

Participant Vignette

The DSF-RONA urban reforestation project had its first day in the future Rouge National Park on May 5th. 130 people, most from the Tamil community, were in attendance and 500 trees were planted in Bob Hunter Memorial Park. The Friends of the Rouge Watershed (FRW) provided support and the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) who brought out volunteers of all ages, kept everyone energized and made sure the event was wonderfully managed. The area was left quite pristine after the event with only footprints to speak for all the memories made.

The tree planting was undertaken by the volunteers in memory of friends and family who were lost to war and the Tsunami. A Tamil female elder was present in addition to the first Tamil member of Parliament, Rathika Sitsabaiesan, so having these women walk the soil in leadership with youth was reminiscent of the global First Nations and was a moment of reclamation and identity for the Tamils as a displaced First Nations of their own birthland. Multigenerational families in tree planting had a moment of connection when she remembered her son who had fallen in the war. She wants to come back next year to see ‘her’ tree.  

 

What You Can Do

The Homegrown National Park Project

Activities a donation will support

The Homegrown National Park Project had a modest first year budget, relying largely on the generousity of local residents, community groups, businesses and institutions. In future, we hope to expand the project and provide more substantial support for both large-scale and smaller green improvements to the area's public and private lands. This would include training additional Neighbourhood Park Rangers and supporting existing community and Ranger-led projects.

Donation impact

DSF has a strong record of developing successful communications and public engagement programs across Canada.

In recent years, we have begun to use a mix of methodologies: moving from more traditional outreach; to more innovative engagement aimed at mutual learning and the support of community developed and community-led initiatives. While these approaches are complementary, we believe the potential for lasting transformative change is much higher in the latter, and so seek to document, question and improve our methodology with program participants before attempting to replicate, expand or promote these programs throughout the GTA. We believe it is important to be able to assess the "ripple effect" of such community-based programs and are working with experts at Wilfrid Laurier University to accurately track program impact.

We will use funds to ensure that our co-creative transformational community engagement programs are as inclusive, impactful, and meaningful as they possibly can be, and will share our learning with others. It is our hope that by supporting communities to connect with their parks in ways that resonate most deeply with them, we can change the landscape of our city together.

Natural Capital in Ontario's Greenbelt

Activities a donation will support

Support will build DSF's capacity to connect with low-income, ethnic and other communities to speak to issues of access to and stewardsihp of nature in our city.  We will work with significant Toronto population segments, and connect them with media, policy stakeholders, government (municipal, provincial and federal) resulting in more inclusive urban development that places economic success, wellbeing and health on a firm foundation of ecological sustainability.

Donation impact

DSF is dependent upon funders like the TCF to support the work it undertakes. Recent polling and social media analysis shows DSF has the largest following of any environmental organization in the country and the highest credibility rating.  We are asking you to help us build the capacity of our organization to allow us to reach out to communities in the GTA who have not traditionally been included in conservation dialogues to date -- to enhance the voices of population segments such as low-income families, seniors, new Canadians, etc. in existing civic and environmental discourses.  We know we need to improve the way we do things if the environmental movement is ever to reflect the true diversity of Toronto.

 

 

Contact

Lori Johnston
Leadership Giving & Strategic Partnerships
416.348.9885 x1584
Charitable Number: 127756716RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 8,968,369

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